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Thread: MORALITY IS BIOLOGICAL

  1. Top | #11
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Here's an example I posted in another thread:

    One organism is killing and eating another organism:



    The didinium is eating and killing the paramecium



    By way of contrast:


    Last edited by ruby sparks; 02-24-2020 at 11:29 AM.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

  2. Top | #12
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post

    Granted, we can't read their minds (if they have them).
    Oh we can most certainly read them. Most advanced modern animals, fresh water fish through humans, show evidence of thinking of self from considering their own existence when viewing mirrors and reflections of other sorts to hesitations in social and predator prey situations. Many species, canines to waterfowl for instance, won't continue attacking after it's opponent offers surrender. Such range from more or less wired behavior to obvious considerations of options. Even teleosts show emotional chromatophore changes in aha situations.

    So If this thread is going to play we need accept the high likelihood that morality is evolved, not emergent as a result of some unique human centered attribute.

    Many species behave using obvious cognitively derived functions. Yes, ruby sparks, Joe Dimaggio thought about his relationship with Marilyn Monroe and the San Diego Killer Whale committed murder of his trainer in front of an audience on purpose.

  3. Top | #13
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post

    Granted, we can't read their minds (if they have them).
    Oh we can most certainly read them.
    No we can't. What you describe is not that.

    And I doubt a didinium even has a mind to read in any case.

    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    So If this thread is going to play we need accept the high likelihood that morality is evolved, not emergent as a result of some unique human centered attribute.
    I don't understand. I am totally accepting that morality is evolved. Nor have I said it is a unique, human-centred attribute, emergent or otherwise.

    I am not talking just about human morality. My claim was explicitly about 'living things'. I even ruled out in the OP that it necessarily involves attitudes.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

  4. Top | #14
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc View Post
    Biologicalism: I don't get it. If it's not just an attempt to bypass the is/ought barrier, I don't see the point or appeal.
    I meant, for example, 'the continued existence of the organism in question is right (or good if you prefer)' or its genes, or its kin, colony, group or tribe, possibly even species, but with the organism itself or perhaps its genes as being priorities.

    In your case it would be 'my continued existence is right and/or good', as it would be in the case of an abortion-performing doctor who some anti-abortionists might want to kill.

    Clearly, there are exceptions, suicide being the most obvious, especially suicide for an organism that has not reproduced first. There might be different ways to explain that. That the organism is sick or unhealthy in some way, for example. This type of explanation is often permitted for moral questions, such as that there are people who do not think it is wrong to kill others merely for pleasure, such as psychopaths.

    I'm not saying that that is the reason for the exception.

    There is altruistic suicide, where the continued existence of another or others takes precedence, usually relatives or members of a group or colony. Several species appear to do this.

    Or it might be selected because the alternative is otherwise unendurable or pointless suffering, yes.

    The bottom line might be genes. I doubt they ever commit suicide. For them the rule may be absolute. It could be said that in the end, organisms are merely gene-vehicles.

    As for the is/ought barrier, yes it might collapse that. It would also decouple 'morality itself' from 'attitudes (about morality)'
    Just to add to this, Wiploc......

    Are you a moral realist of some sort? I don't think I am. But again, there are so many variations it's hard to know for sure.

    I am not the type that tends to think that moral facts exist externally to and independently of living things, that are only discovered by them, in the ways that the laws of physic or the rules of mathematics are (by humans in that case). But I guess I haven't ruled it out. It might be considered an additional issue and I'm sort of 'not going there'.

    The question of exceptions throws it up a bit though. We might say, 'there are no exceptions to the laws of physics and 1 + 1 = 2 is always the case, no exceptions' and so on.

    In practice, the best we seem to get for morality are rules for which the results are the same in almost all cases and for which there are only a small number of what appear to be outliers.

    But, I think it's possible that moral facts, if there are any, might just involve much more complicated equations, involving variables (maths and physics have such equations) and, for example, one of the variables might be something like 'how much suffering is involved'. If some organism has a sufficiently high value for that, the objectively correct answer might be suicide. Counterintuitive, I know. I also doubt we could know what the equations are for morality. There might be a large number of variables, and each variable might be derived from another equation for that variable.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

  5. Top | #15
    Veteran Member Wiploc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Just to add to this, Wiploc......

    Are you a moral realist of some sort?
    Yes. I believe some behaviors are better than others. There are things we should do and things we shouldn't.




    I am not the type that tends to think that moral facts exist externally to and independently of living things, that are only discovered by them, in the ways that the laws of physic or the rules of mathematics are (by humans in that case). But I guess I haven't ruled it out. It might be considered an additional issue and I'm sort of 'not going there'.
    If such a "moral fact" was external to us, how would it be binding? How would it be oughty?




    But, I think it's possible that moral facts, if there are any, might just involve much more complicated equations, involving variables (maths and physics have such equations) and, for example, one of the variables might be something like 'how much suffering is involved'. If some organism has a sufficiently high value for that, the objectively correct answer might be suicide. Counterintuitive, I know. I also doubt we could know what the equations are for morality. There might be a large number of variables, and each variable might be derived from another equation for that variable.
    Rape is wrong because of its strong tendency to decrease happiness. We can imagine a universe in which people like being raped, a universe in which rape is good.

  6. Top | #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post

    Are you a moral realist of some sort?
    Yes. I believe some behaviors are better than others.
    We all do. That doesn't make you a moral realist (in the, technical, philosophical sense).

    Here's a bit of detail: Moral Realism

  7. Top | #17
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc View Post

    Yes. I believe some behaviors are better than others. There are things we should do and things we shouldn't.
    Ok but do you believe there are externally independent rules about that? ‘Existence = good’ is the best I can come up with so far (in fact I didn’t come up with it, it was suggested to me) and I’m only citing that for living things. At this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wiploc View Post
    If such a "moral fact" was external to us, how would it be binding? How would it be oughty?.
    Externally independent wouldn’t mean ‘does not affect you’. Gravity is externally independent of you but you are subject to it.

    I’m currently circulating the externally independent (to you) rule ‘existence is good’. If that’s a rule for you about your own existence (even if you are a didinium) then you ought to eat food.

    I doubt the didinium itself experiences the sensation that a human associates with an ought though, or is even aware of the rule it’s operating under.

    The four creatures behind the man in the trousers wondering what it’s all about (in the cartoon I posted above) are probably not actually thinking the things in the thought bubbles above their heads either, but they are all arguably obeying the rule.

  8. Top | #18
    Formerly Joedad
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    I’m currently circulating the externally independent (to you) rule ‘existence is good’. If that’s a rule for you about your own existence (even if you are a didinium) then you ought to eat food.
    Actually you are saying that biological existence is good. We're all going to exist physically forever, changing a bit as we go along, but biologically we will definitely come and go.

  9. Top | #19
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    I’m currently circulating the externally independent (to you) rule ‘existence is good’. If that’s a rule for you about your own existence (even if you are a didinium) then you ought to eat food.
    Actually you are saying that biological existence is good. We're all going to exist physically forever, changing a bit as we go along, but biologically we will definitely come and go.
    Ok.

    I won’t quibble and say that the qualifier ‘for living things’ already arguably covered that. 🙂

  10. Top | #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by The AntiChris View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post

    Are you a moral realist of some sort?
    Wiploc
    Yes. I believe some behaviors are better than others.
    We all do. That doesn't make you a moral realist (in the, technical, philosophical sense).

    Here's a bit of detail:
    The latter states:

    Many philosophers claim that moral realism may be dated back at least to Plato as a philosophical doctrine,[2] and that it is a fully defensible form of moral doctrine. A survey from 2009 involving 3,226 respondents[4] found that 56% of philosophers accept or lean towards moral realism (28%: anti-realism; 16%: other)
    I repeat

    A survey from 2009 involving 3,226 respondents[4] found that 56% of philosophers
    ...

    At least that many ( 3,226) "philosophers" in this sad world??? That's immoral in itself.
    Last edited by 4321lynx; 02-24-2020 at 10:25 PM.

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